Monthly Archives: February 2012

A search engine that can produce customized corporate versions

Unlike Bing or Google, Wolfram Alpha does not actually forage the Web. It tries to cull information from its own meticulously curated database to come up with answers. Its goal is to make all kinds of systematic knowledge immediately computable and available to all. Its researchers make constant innovations with regular data updates to countless sources and improvements to its natural-language parser, new data sets and functionality. The formal name of this computational knowledge engine’s new version is ‘Wolfram Alpha Pro, and Dr’. Continue reading

The working methodology of Wolfram Alpha’s unique search model

The core idea behind Wolfram Alpha is to collect and curate every bit of objective data; implement all known models, methods, and algorithms; to act as comprehensive source for definitive answers to factual queries based on expert-level knowledge. It serves as a knowledge engine, is an intellectual endeavor with participation from experts across different fields. Beyond Mathematica, what holds the key to it has been A New Kind of Science (NKS), related to algorithms. Continue reading

Pin-pointing a peculiar online phenomenon

The social media space, even when there’s talk of some saturation creeping in, actually continues to evolve at a rapid pace and in different ways. A prime example of this is Pinterest, a site not even two years old, now climbing up the popularity ladder by leaps and bounds. It has already found place among the top 10 sites in the category of Social Networking & Forums by the Hitwise. Continue reading

Ways and means to deal with miscreants online

People with malicious intentions make use of legitimate third-party applications at times to more easily spread spam, to abuse social site users. Twitter and Facebook agree that they cannot eliminate spam, but are stepping up efforts to make it tougher to set up and manage fake profiles. When the sites are suspicious of an account, they might ask its owner for a reliable identity proof or to identify their recent friends. Continue reading

Brands enter the 3.0 phase for Superbowl advertising

For millions of fervent football fans world over, the Super Bowl is always one of the most memorable social occasions of the year. That’s also becoming the case for several marketers and advertisers, as has been evident again, this year. Brands and businesses clearly enhanced their presence across social media channels during the sporting extravaganza that hit the headlines last week. Continue reading

Social spam battle gets a new, sharp edge

The world’s leading social networks apart from issues related to privacy are facing another hurdle. Both Facebook and Twitter are gearing up to counter an emerging threat: ‘social’ spam. One of the oldest annoyances of Internet, this malice is building up for its second act. This new form, unlike email spam, which generally emanates from strangers, ‘social’ spam peculiarly surfaces from those in the know. Continue reading

Search for apps become more user-friendly

All of us equate search and optimization with the World Wide Web. But the connotations of search have changed thanks to high-end mobile devices or smartphones that offer unlimited way of accessing information. Just like in a search engine, users can now search apps by phrase or keyword, browse an index divided into several logical main categories and subcategories. Here are a quick pointers to suggest how different ‘Search-friendly’ apps are facilitating easy discovery. Continue reading

Traits of power users and other Facebook facts researched

A report just released about Facebook and its users, provides some interesting insights. Instead of focusing on the social site’s financials, as most analysts are currently doing, it tries to explains how social interactions on the platform tend to mirror those in the real world.  This insightful study, entitled ‘Why Most Facebook Users Get More Than They Give’ tries to shed light on how Facebook users tend to engage and connect with each other and what they really get out of it. Continue reading

Is individual Google user’s data safe and private, EU asks

The controversy over privacy rules continues to heat up as European governments, strongly supported by the top EU top justice official, are putting pressure on Google for a pause button on privacy policy changes even as they investigate its implications for data protection of individual users. This sure will have a rub-off effect on the people and officials in the US about surveillance and data monitoring by companies.

The move is a major shot across the bow for many online sites including Facebook, which depend on the European market of close to 500 million people for a large portion of their business. Back and forth moves are coming amid a vigorous drive for making privacy protection in Europe more efficient and coherent. The E.U. justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, had already called on relevant European authorities ‘to make sure EU laws are fully complied with in the new privacy policy of Google.’

EU seeks legal certainty and compliance from Google over new policy

A request has been sent to Google by national data-protection authorities, seeking from the search engine giant suspension of its planned change in privacy policies from March 1, 2012 while they do an inquiry into its implications. They wrote to the company’s chief executive, Larry Page, to ask for a pause in the interests of making sure that there is no misunderstanding about its commitment to their users’ information rights and those of EU citizens.

Ms. Reding stated that a thorough investigation in this matter would help impart ‘legal certainty for both citizens and businesses.’ The action follows Google’s announcement, as extensively reported, that it would start combining different privacy policies for its online properties and products into a simple system for the users.

But the changes would mean it can use data shared on a particular Google service in other services for those signed into a Google account.

For example, Google could guide a user who had looked for recipes using the Google search engine to relevant cooking videos the next time that person signed in to YouTube, which is also owned by Google. As it has elaborated,

“The main reason is to create a better user experience. Our approach to privacy has not changed. We continue to focus on providing transparency, control, and security to our users.”

The points that the company wants to emphasize are as follows:

  • Users will continue to have both choice and control. The major change in the new policy is for users who sign into Google Accounts. People won’t need to sign in to make use of many of its services like YouTube, Search and Maps.
  • If a user is signed in, he or she can still turn off or edit his/ her search history, delete and edit viewing history of YouTube, switch one’s chat to ‘off the record’, and also control the manner in which Google tailors ads to one’s interests using its Ads Preferences Manager. They can employ a host of other privacy tools listed at google.com/privacy/tools.
  • The policy changes do not affect existing privacy settings of users. If one has already utilized privacy tools for opting out of personalized search/ads, for instance, one will be opted out.

It remains to be seen whether EU authorities, seeking legal certainty and compliance over its new privacy policy, are satisfied with the company’s explanation.

Develop a contingency plan to handle adverse user comments

After Facebook unveiled a new advertising system, individual Pages emerged as major customer interaction hubs for an array of brands irrespective of size or domain. Simultaneously, the complex logistics of managing a vast amount of fan conversation had to be developed as well, especially when things go wrong. a business needs to have in place a comprehensive strategy to manage such situations more tactful. Continue reading